Easter Sunday Sunrise Celebration to be held at Mount Rushmore

MOUNT RUSHMORE, S.D. – The 74th annual Easter Sunday Sunrise Celebration is set for 7 a.m. on Easter morning at the Mount Rushmore Amphitheater.

“Mount Rushmore was built between 1927 and 1941, and the first Sunrise Service was in 1945 and it was put on by a seventh and eighth grade Sunday School class and it wasn’t in front of Mount Rushmore, but behind Mount Rushmore. Things were very different back then. And then over the years it has grown and changed, and it used to be in the old amphitheater facility which is now down by the sculptor studio. And then when they built the new facility in the mid to late nineties, the ceremony was moved up there,” explains John Esposti with the First Congregational Church of Keystone.

Easter Sunrise ServiceThe service is put on by the United Church of Christ In Hermosa, and the First Congregational Church of Keystone. It’s open to anyone who want to enjoy fellowship and a sunrise on Easter morning.

“This would be an ideal chance to come see a Christian service in a place other than a traditional church, a place that virtually anybody can enjoy and feel inspired by,” Esposti adds.

Both churches came together to set up the ceremonies, but say that the venue adds to the power of one of the most important days in the Christian faith.

“One of the things about Mount Rushmore that lends itself very nicely to this- when Mount Rushmore was chosen as a location, one of the reasons was because of natural illumination,” says Esposti. “The sculptor was a sculpting genius and he knew that anything on the north side would always be in the shadows. He wanted something that faced south and east. And as the sun comes up, the sun’s rays shine directly on to those faces, illuminating them in a wonderful golden yellow light. “

They anticipate strong attendance, with about 1,000 people, but say there’s room for everyone who wants to come celebrate resurrection and hope.

“In previous years, we had golf carts up there to shuttle people back and forth. That’s not going to be happening this way this year. So if you have anybody in your family who has mobility issues and they have a walker or a wheelchair, by all means bring it along,” Esposti emphasizes.

Parking is free, as long as you get there before 7:15 a.m., and snacks are served after the service.

“I’d like to encourage everybody to come to this, who can and wants to. There’s plenty of parking. There’s plenty of space up there, and it’s a very moving ceremony. And if you’ve never been there, you’re just going to enjoy it very much,” says Jim Preston with the United Church of Christ in Hermosa.

Regardless of denomination, Jim and John say it’s an opportunity for anyone to enjoy the light of Easter as sunlight floods the morning.

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